The future is algae

Japanese students foresee more use of microalgae in Atlantic salmon feed.

Two Japanese students have been doing parts of their research work at the Faculty of Aquaculture and Biosciences in connection with the A2F-project (Algae to Future) funded by the Research Council of Norway.  

Takanobu and Yoshiki are students at Tokyo University of Marine Sciences and Technology (TUMSAT), which is a well-known Japanese university for the studies of ocean environment, resources and energy.

Takanobu, who belongs to the fish nutrition lab at TUMSAT, and Yoshiki, student at the university graduate school of the marine sciences and technology, have participated in experiments on the use of microalgae in Atlantic salmon feed. 

Klikk her for å endre bildetBack to Algae Future. Microalgae will have to be used in future fish feeds, says Takanobu Hashimoto (left) and Yoshiki Uchiyama (photo: Per Jarl Elle). 

– At present, the price of fish meal, which is widely used in the feeds of cultured fish, is increasing due to the decrease in natural resources and the expansion of aquaculture. Therefore, new raw materials are required to replace it.  

– We are studying the effects of feed produced using microalgae, with or without broken cell walls, on growth performance, fillet composition and fish health, says Takanobu Hashimoto.

Fellow student Yoshiki Uchiyama is studying the progress of lipid oxidation in fish flesh due to differences in the processing methods of the microalgae.

One of the challenges in establishing a new microalgae variety in aquafeeds, is to find microalgae species that can deliver the fatty acids found in conventional fish meal. 

This scientific goal needs lot of research. 

– The feed that does not contain fish meal lacks DHA and EPA. These essential fatty acids are necessary for excellent growth of marine fish. However, microorganisms such as Schizochytrium contain a large amount of DHA and EPA. 

– So I think microalgae containing these fatty acids will contribute greatly to the development of non-fish meal and non-fish oil feed for marine fish in the future, says Yoshiki.

– Microalgae feeds will have a future 

The TUMSAT students are conditionally optimistic about microalgae feeds for Japanese fish farming. 

Klikk her for å endre bildetMicroalgae research at Nord University. - ​Last autumn Takanobu (right) and Yoshiki were contributing to the aquaculture research field as our guest students from Tokyo University of Marine Sciences and Technology (TUMSAT).  They emphasize the scientific goal is to find microalgae species that can deliver the fatty acids in aquafeeds (photo: Per Jarl Elle).

Yoshiki Uchiyama, do not anticipate that microalgae feeds will make a significant contribution to Japanese aquaculture in the near future. 

The reason, says Yoshiko, is that only few studies demonstrates that fish feed containing microalgae performs better than current commercial feed.

– In addition, Japan does not yet have a system for large-scale production of microalgae for fish feed. Because of that most Japanese feed companies do not actively use microalgae. If studies such as the one we are conducting within the A2F project are able to show the efficacy of microalgae, many farmers will be interested in using microalgae. 

– In the distant future, I expect that microalgae will be alternative ingredients to fish meal and fish oil in feeds for various fish species and this will make a huge contribution to sustainable fish farming, says Yoshiki Uchiyama.

Takanobu Hashimoto elaborates on the future alternatives to conventional fish feed, and he thinks it will take a long time for microalgal biomass to have an impact on Japanese aquaculture. 

Changing the mindset about fish farming 

– Currently, and unlike in Norway, the main ingredient in the commercial feeds for the Japanese aquaculture is fish meal, and vegetable ingredients such as soybean meal are not used so much. 

– Therefore, in order to use microalgal biomass as feed for Japanese aquaculture, further research is necessary to demonstrate that the flesh quality is at par with those of fish fed on marine ingredients. Also, I think we Japanese need to change our mindset in order to think more actively about the environmental impact of using large amounts of fish meal, as in Norway, says Takanobu Hashimoto.

Top photo: Private

Exchange students 

Since 2006, Nord University have host-ed close to 100 Japanese international students . 

During this period 22 Nord-students have studied in Japan, at TUMSAT and Seinan Gakuin University.

Recently, Nord University has signed an international student exchange deal with Ryukoko University i Kyoto.

In Spring 2020, Nord University and Gakushuin University (Tokyo) will fullfill their first exchange agreement for students.

The hunt for sustainable fish meal 
(source: National Food Institute, Denmark)
How scientists discovered salmon that need less food to grow (source:  ScienceNorway)